Hardwick Farms is the estate of Christopher Lafayette Hardwick II (1879–1961) located in Cleveland, Tennessee. Christopher Lafayette, or “C. L.,” as he was called, was the grandson of the pioneering local businessman Christopher Lafayette Hardwick (1827–1901), founder of Hardwick Clothes (Cleveland Woolen Mills, 1880; Hardwick Woolen Mills, 1925), Hardwick Stove Company (1879; acquired by Maytag Co., 1981), and other industries, and one of “the most substantial citizens of East Tennessee,” according to William S. Speer’s Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans (1888). He was a descendant of the seventeenth-century Hardwicks of Westbury, England.
Designed as a gentleman’s or model farm, Hardwick was home to a nationally recognized herd of pedigree Angus cattle in the 1930s and 40s. In the 1960s and 70s, following C. L.’s death in 1961 and the inheritance of the estate by his great-niece Joe Hardwick Corn Stuart (1922–2009), Hardwick Farms became a lively familial and social seat, hosting, among others, the late greats Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman and the Glenn Miller Band at some of the many entertainments that Joe—a U. S. Marine, philanthropist, and generous hostess—and her husband, Cpl. David Sullins (“D. S.”) Stuart, Jr. (1918–1984), held there.
The house is an exceptional example of the American country house tradition of the 1920s and 30s, and was built in the Spanish or Mediterranean Revival style popular in the first half of the twentieth century. It was designed in 1933 by the Knoxville architecture firm of Barber & McMurry (now BARBERMcMURRY), and features a symmetrical Georgian-inspired façade—a Southern twist on a style more often associated with California and other coastal regions, regularly laid Spanish tile roof, and arched porch overlooking a small spring-fed lake and waterfall. Notable among its interiors are a hand-painted scenic Chinese Dining Room wallpaper, paneled gentleman's library, and an Art Deco powder room outfitted with state-of-the-art period fixtures by Standard Mfg. Co.
On the grounds of the estate are an expanse of virgin woodland and a natural spring; two man-made lakes; original farm buildings including a smokehouse and a working-turned-cabaret barn; as well as rare and exotic plant and tree specimens cultivated by the late Mrs. Stuart, who was an avid gardener and a discerning florist.
Though changes have made to the estate over time, the interiors of Hardwick House remain remarkably intact, and recent research has shed new light on old rooms: what the family now use as a den, for example, spatial arrangement suggests and original blueprints indicate was originally designed as an office for Mr. C. L. Hardwick, complete with separate entrance and bathroom in typical late nineteenth- to early twentieth-century gentleman's residence fashion. Thanks to the completeness of the house and the extensiveness of its records, there are still many discoveries to be made about it, and about the significant and as yet little-understood American building tradition that it typifies.
History of Tennessee from the Earliest Time to the Present, Chicago and Nashville, 1887
William S. Speer, Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans, Nashville, 1888
Zella Armstrong, Notable Southern Families, Vol. II, Chattanooga, 1922
Roy G. Lillard, Tennessee History Series: Bradley County, Memphis, 1980
James F. Corn, C. L. Hardwick: A Biographical Sketch, 1982
Ken Vail, Duke’s Diary: The Life of Duke Ellington, 1950 – 1974, 2002
Beverly G. Bond & Sarah W. Freeman, Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times, Vol. II, 2015
Photos: Hardwick Farms Estate Collection, Clark Brewer Photography, TN State Library & Archives